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Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
6 months ago

For much of my lifetime large numbers of people in Northern Ireland and the Republic have voted for a terrorist organisation thinly disguised as a political party. This does not engage my sympathy and I can well understand why the protestants want no part of such an organisation or its aims.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
6 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

… and a large number of people voted for a party run by a Masonic Lodge, and calls itself Protestant, whereas it is actually Presbyterian, as real Protestants are members of the borderless Church of Ireland, and many of its followers believe that The Pope is Satan, that Catholics were not allowed to join the British Army, and thatvtelevision is ” The Devils Lantern”…..is that more ” normal”?

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
6 months ago

Not normal but less violent. (Not free from violence, but less violent.)

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
6 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

I shall have to invite you to next year’s Bloody Sunday Memorial Dinner*; It’s quite a hoot!

(* Black tie, no medals, bring your own sandbag.)

Last edited 6 months ago by ARNAUD ALMARIC
Eamonn Toland
Eamonn Toland
6 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

“Loyalist” terrorist groups were responsible for at least 740 murders in the Troubles, spraying Catholic-owned pubs and betting shops with bombs and bullets, kidnapping, torturing and murdering innocent civilians (the Shankill Butchers were aptly named) and subjecting others to gruesome mutilation, including Anita Currie, wife of the moderate nationalist politician Austin Currie, who was beaten senseless in her home and had the initials UVF, for Ulster Volunteer Force, carved on her breasts.
Dozens of these loyalist terrorists were also serving members of Her Majesty’s Ulster Defence Regiment or the Royal Ulster Constabulary, including the Glenanne Gang which may have murdered over 120 innocent people, including musicians from the Miami Showband. Much of their weaponry and what intelligence they used (beyond targeting prosperous Catholics for being Catholic) emanated from HMG sources.
Most unionists loathed their terrorism, and the political wings of loyalist terrorist groups have failed to gain traction, but that hasn’t stopped leading unionist politicians from standing alongside convicted loyalist terrorists on the same platform.
Not normal, I agree, but hardly less violent.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
6 months ago
Reply to  Eamonn Toland

At the risk of engaging in a body count, which is degrading, I maintain that the Republicans were overwhelmingly more violent. Moreover, when the Troubles were finally over the Shankill Butchers did not get to swan around in Government limos with the benefit of a one-sided amnesty.

Lisa I
Lisa I
6 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

Not the Shankhill Butchers but other terrorists have. The amnesty hasn’t been one sided either. The recent prosecution of Ivor Bell is an example. Imo a truth and reconciliation approach would have been best. It is very hard to justify that to grieving families though.

At any rate, people in Britain have been subject to IRA atrocities not Loyalist groups atrocities. Consequently, it isn’t surprising that there isn’t the same knowledge among the British public of terrorism from the loyalist groups. There was plenty of it in Northern Ireland and also some in the Republic. Horrendous things were done by both sides and hopefully will never be repeated. Ireland and Britain have to move forward to having normal neighbouring country relations.

Last edited 6 months ago by Lisa I
Eamonn Toland
Eamonn Toland
6 months ago

What do you mean by “real” Protestants? You do know the Presbyterian church in Ireland is also borderless?
Both Presbyterians and Catholics were denied basic civil rights for over a century under the Anglican Penal Laws. The Orange Order was started in the 1790s mostly by Church of Ireland weavers in the Linen Triangle, where Catholic, Presbyterian and Anglican smallholders were in competition for work. Heavily Presbyterian Belfast in the 1790s was an Enlightenment city, where Protestants of all denominations clubbed together to finance the construction of the first Catholic church, St. Mary’s. It wasn’t until the early 19th century that workers from the Linen Triangle poured into Belfast, and sectarian fault-lines hardened.
While the Free Presbyterian church is overrepresented in the DUP, and several of their leading politicians are creationists, many of those who hold their nose to vote DUP do so for the reasons Malcolm Knott outlines. It’s often been said that the greatest barrier to a United Ireland is Sinn Féin.

Warren T
Warren T
6 months ago

How on earth can anyone who calls themselves a Christian condone or participate in any action or behavior that leads to such violence on the Emerald Isle. There is absolutely nothing Christian about any of it.

Miriam Uí Riagáin
Miriam Uí Riagáin
6 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

Large numbers have never voted Sinn Féin in RoI historically. Only very recently, as in the last election, younger voters have voted for their populist policies – completely forgetting the terrorist past. That was/is a huge upset in Irish politics, but does not translate into support for terrorism.

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
6 months ago

The author rests his entire argument on the menacing spectre of a border with watchtowers and check points.

Well, the watchtowers were there because of terrorists, not to manage cross border travel and trading. It seems incredibly racist of the author to suggest the Irish will always resort to terrorism to settle political differences. Is that really how the Dublin literary circle views the rest of Irish society? The watchtowers won’t be reappearing.

Meanwhile, based on the authors experience of customs and logistics, how effective does he think checkpoints are? Not very. The EU surrounds itself with checkpoints with non-EU states and yet drugs, weapons and people pour through its borders daily. Yet here, between two islands of modern Western states, the EU threatens to build its most stringent border. Odd that, isn’t it? That’s because checkpoints are not about customs and logistics, that stuff is managed behind borders; checkpoints are political totems. Again, is that what the author thinks this problem must be reduced to: political point scoring? I’m not sure the ugly pettiness of the Dublin literary circle is something that should be adopted by diplomats. The checkpoints will only reappear to score a political point.

Last edited 6 months ago by Nell Clover
Eamonn Toland
Eamonn Toland
6 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Thanks to the scuttling of the Boundary Commission report in 1925, the Irish border follows the old county boundaries that literally run through kitchens and living rooms. It was so porous across hundreds of miles that it was almost impossible to police, even with one of the largest helicopter bases in the world in south Armagh.
Smuggling used to be rife, with sheep shuttled backwards and forwards to avail of various subsidies, and diesel fuel being laundered to fill the coffers of the Provisional IRA. A special Act of Parliament in Westminster bans tankers from travelling on a private road on farmland belonging to a leading member of the IRA that straddles the border.
Even before the start of the Troubles, customs checkpoints were onerous and resented by the local population, which is overwhelmingly nationalist on both sides for much of its length.
Even if you discount the political totems, the easiest place to conduct customs and logistics checks behind the border would be at the handful of seaports between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, where business has been booming since Brexit as southern hauliers travel north rather than going from Dublin to Holyhead.

Ri Bradach
Ri Bradach
6 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

“ I’m not sure the ugly pettiness of the Dublin literary circle is something that should be adopted by diplomats. The checkpoints will only reappear to score a political point.”
Possibly my favourite dissection of a bigot in 2022. Thank you.

polidori redux
polidori redux
6 months ago

I can’t really engage with this article The Irish must make their own future and live as they please. I feel neither animosity nor obligation towards them, but wish them good luck.
Perhaps things are worse than the author thinks, as I am not a tory by any stretch of the imagination, but feel no attachment to N.I. It is as foreign a country to me as The Republic if Ireland and I would prefer it if that reality were fully recognised.
I do find it anomalous that the peoples of N.I. and Scotland can vote to leave the union with England, but I am not offered the same opportunity to vote for the dissolution of the United Kingdom – Which I would do. A divorce, even an acrimonious divorce, is preferable to a broken marriage that lingers on to the grave.
The moral in this? If you constantly present me as an overbearing relative, there comes a day when I walk away. We have already seen this play out with my vote to leave the E.U. I took no interest in how this might affect Ireland, because I had no interest.

Last edited 6 months ago by polidori redux
Ian Barton
Ian Barton
6 months ago

I find it laughable when people refer to “EU money” because there is no such thing.
Its French, German and (previously) U.K. taxpayers money.
It will be interesting to see whether the funding for Irish (united or otherwise) road repairs continues after the EU Commission (i.e France and Germany) decide to be less generous as the “strategic benefits” to them of favouring Ireland diminishes (post Brexit).
The assault on Irelands taxation policy is probably the first sign of things to come.
Nervousness within the NI community about Eire’s increasingly submissive relationship within the EU is unlikely to go away anytime soon.

Last edited 6 months ago by Ian Barton
D Ward
D Ward
6 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

I wonder how the EU will view the prospect of a united Ireland when it dawns on them they will be on the hook for the costs of NI once England is no longer paying?

Lisa I
Lisa I
6 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

The bizarre thing is Ireland has been a net contributor to the EU budget for many years now. The idea of EU money for roads was correct in the past but no more. Ironically, due to Ireland’s GDP being artificially increased by multinationals the country pays far more than it would otherwise.

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
6 months ago

Interesting times. It cannot be denied that the English want rid of NI. They’re such martyrs to the rest of the UK — in their own minds, paying for everything while the Celtic fringe lives off them like fleas on a dog’s back — that they really can’t wait. This assumption is at least debatable with regard to Scotland and Wales, but there’s no question that NI is a leech. It’s never punched its weight and has always sucked off the hind wotsit of England, unionist chest-puffing notwithstanding. The Republic, on the other hand, has gone from strength to strength, and has almost completely eclipsed the north economically. Moreover, since the semi-detachment of NI from the UK, northern business people have found an uncomfortable kind of freedom in the paradoxical fact that they’re being forced to deal more directly with the south, and through them, with the rest of the EU. That’s one side of the equation.
The other is that the south is a midden. Culturally, it’s deader than flair trousers. Dublin, a city with three Nobel laureates in literature, is illiterate. It’s artists make Jackson Pollock look talented, and it is guilty of U2. On the moral level, it’s a cesspool, with people actually, literally dancing in the streets on the passage of abortion, and while they’re all celebrating the demise of the power of the Catholic Church, nearly 1500 children are being referred to child protection services in the new, at-ease-with-itself Irish state every WEEK. Not month, not year, every WEEK.
So, with the choice of living off dwindling English largesse, or becoming a full partner in hell, which would you choose?

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
6 months ago

Why not completely independent? NI has a similar population size to some of the Balkan states, and is considerably larger in this respect than uber-successful Iceland.

Thus they would avoid being joined to the cultural desert that is forever the Republic, and learn at last, to really stand on their own, somewhat wobbly, two feet.

For England the inestimable joy of this event would allow considerably greater ‘investment’ in the mystical ‘Red Wall’ and even perhaps in the most deprived area of the country; Cornwall.*

(*Birthplace of the Industrial Revolution circa 1710.)

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
6 months ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

Looking further ahead, any vote to rejoin Eire has to be considered as a short-term stepping stone towards being an EU colony.
Possibly a price worth paying if maintaining an “anti British” sentiment is your priority.

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
6 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

I wouldn’t get too hung up on that aspect of it. There’s an attitude of mind among English people that their own country is Mystical Albion, when in fact it’s actually the 51st state of the US, except it has no senators. It’s a bit like Puerto Rico in that regard. I’m saying the Republic is a sump, not that England is paradise.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
6 months ago

Precisely and as ‘we’ have been since 1916.
Mind you Ireland has been a ‘sump’, as you so prosaically call it, since at least 1169 when Raymond the Fat & Chums hit the beach.

Last edited 6 months ago by ARNAUD ALMARIC
Eamonn Toland
Eamonn Toland
6 months ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

Ireland’s cultural heyday was probably between the 6th and 9th centuries, when half the literary output of western Europe was written by Irish monks. The only philosopher Bertrand Russel includes from this era in his History of Western Philosophy is Johannes Scotus Eriugena.
Having said that, 1169 probably wasn’t the disaster it’s made out to be. Ireland got off far more lightly than northern England did after 1066. Although Henry II was papally nominated as Lord Protector of the “barbarous” (read: far too independent) Irish church, he tried to hand the crown back to the last High King, Rory O’Connor, as his vassal, but Norman warlords were having none of it, and Henry wasn’t going to allow a rival to rule Leinster, a kingdom the size of Wales, without his oversight.
It was probably the Tudor era when things hit the fan, culturally speaking, with the various rebellions and scorched earth campaigns that culminated in the “Old English” Catholic aristocrats having their Irish lands seized by Parliament during the English Civil War. These landless Norman aristocrats who had fought for God, King and Country were branded as outlaws, or to use the Gaelic term, Tories.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
6 months ago
Reply to  Eamonn Toland

I agree with most of that erudite synopsis, but Raymond & Co only arrived because they were invited in to settle an internecine struggle were they not?
A fatal mistake as it turned out, that would blight the Land of ‘Saints & Scholars’ for centuries.
Obviously as you say things got badly out of hand when Tudor thugs such as Gilbert, Raleigh, Bingham & Co went on the rampage, but the seeds of that were sown in 1169.
Ireland failed the first test of Darwinian Survival :- Repel the alien invader.

Eamonn Toland
Eamonn Toland
6 months ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

Absolutely they were invited in, with Aoife, the daughter of the deposed King of Leinster, thrown in to sweeten the deal. As Brendan Behan once said, the first item on the agenda of any Irish nationalist movement is the split. Rather reminiscent of Life Of Brian.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
6 months ago
Reply to  Eamonn Toland

What a splendid analogy! I had heard that pearl from Bethan before.
Perhaps that says it all? At least the English managed to stick together…….just.

Last edited 6 months ago by ARNAUD ALMARIC
Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
6 months ago
Reply to  Eamonn Toland

It was during this period that relations between “Anglo-Saxon” England and Ireland were at their most productive with exchanges of ideas in art, learning and religion to the benefit of both nations. The coming of the Normans put paid to all this and embroilled England in numerous European wars.

Eamonn Toland
Eamonn Toland
6 months ago

Great point. The Hundred Years War probably halved the population of France.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
6 months ago
Reply to  Eamonn Toland

Well if it didn’t, the Black Death certainly did.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
6 months ago

Had the Synod of Whitby gone the other way, things may have been radically different.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
6 months ago

However ‘we’ still engaged in the odd ‘smash & grab’ raid. Here is Bede on Ecgfrith of Northumbria and his antics in 684:-
“In the year of our Lord 684 Ecgfrith, king of Northumbria, sent an army to Ireland under his ealdorman Berht, who wretchedly devastated a harmless race that had always been most friendly to the English, and his hostile bands spared neither churches nor monasteries. The islanders resisted force by force so far as they were able, imploring the merciful aid of God and invoking His vengeance with unceasing imprecations”.

Last edited 6 months ago by ARNAUD ALMARIC
polidori redux
polidori redux
6 months ago

Don’t get childish Francis! If you are not English why would you care about the status of England?

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
6 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Because I don’t hate England. As a matter of fact, I quite like the place and would like to see it prosper, but a lot of English people seem to think Brexit was the end of the problem and the solution would now present itself because you’ve got rid of the EU. In fact, Brexit was only an opportunity, a beginning, if you want it. All the heavy lifting is still in front, and you don’t get a pass on it just because it’s England.

polidori redux
polidori redux
6 months ago

I don’t want a pass – just because it is England (or the uk). My reasons for voting brexit were laid out by Tony Benn in 1975. I don’t wish to sound curt, but unless you are British you don’t have a say, and you don’t have a say because it is none of your business. (If you are Scottish I won’t stop you voting for Sottish independence and re-applying for membership of the EU – with my best wishes)

Last edited 6 months ago by polidori redux
Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
6 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Now, when did not being a particular nationality ever stop the English having a say in how that nationality should proceed?

polidori redux
polidori redux
6 months ago

Since when? – Since a long time ago. The empire and all that pertained to it died before I was born. I have move on and I suggest that you do the same.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
6 months ago

Me think you doth protest too much

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
6 months ago

You are certainly right that the U.K. has become increasingly culturally American.
Fortunately we don’t have their laws imposed upon us.

Last edited 6 months ago by Ian Barton
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
6 months ago

I was talking to an Irish colleague who was bemoaning the fact Ireland was increasing fixated on US issues driven by NGAs and US money

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
6 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

The very essence of Irish exceptionalism is hatred of the English*, and any price is worth that.” Never forgive and never forget “ as they say.

(* Sometimes referred to as Saxons, as in the lyrics of the song The Foggy Dew : “The land the Saxons stole”.)

Eamonn Toland
Eamonn Toland
6 months ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

Independence might be a more viable option if the political class within Northern Ireland included an accountable cross-community government and opposition, rather than mandatory power sharing.
As it stands, the substantial work of responsible governance is often overshadowed by puerile dog whistle politics, with Special Advisors more attuned to exploiting government handouts such as renewable heat incentives than seeking value for money for the Exchequer (a book called Burned makes for depressing reading).
It’s absurd that Irish, an indigenous language that has one of the oldest written vernaculars in the world, second only to Latin and Greek in Europe, has less official status in Northern Ireland, decades after legislation was promised, than the other Celtic languages of the United Kingdom.
As it stands, politicians obsess more over the narcissism of small differences than the cost of living or an ailing health service.
If there is one positive to be taken from the shellacking the DUP might receive on Thursday, it’s that bread and butter politics are coming to the fore in unionist communities, who are not treating local elections as yet another proxy border poll, and where the NI Protocol is ranked far down their list of priorities.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
6 months ago
Reply to  Eamonn Toland

Incidentally and entirely ‘off piste’ has any new evidence been found to support the idea that the Romans may have carried out at least one ‘smash & grab’ raid on Ireland?

Last edited 6 months ago by ARNAUD ALMARIC
Eamonn Toland
Eamonn Toland
6 months ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

They have certainly found some Roman coins, but I’d love to see some evidence of raiding.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
6 months ago
Reply to  Eamonn Toland

Juvenal is the only written source. Perhaps a 12 hectare Legionary Marching Camp will be found in the Boyne valley some day.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
6 months ago
Reply to  Eamonn Toland

The Irish Language issue is bonkers! It reminds me rather of how Anglo-Saxons have been airbrushed from British History, as everything now seems to start with Willian the B*****d and his Franco/Norman thugs.

Last edited 6 months ago by ARNAUD ALMARIC
Eamonn Toland
Eamonn Toland
6 months ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

I really have to delve deeper into Anglo-Saxon history and get a decent modern translation of Beowulf.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
6 months ago
Reply to  Eamonn Toland

It would be a very productive delve. The friendship and co-operation between Ireland and “Anglo-Saxon” England was very deep, even after the Viking decided to use Dublin as a slave trading base for slave raids into Wales and the west of England. The whole period is facinating, as is the same period in Ireland (and Wales).

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
6 months ago

I see the Censor axed much of that little discourse into early Irish-English history.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
6 months ago
Reply to  Eamonn Toland

You know and I know that bread and butter politics is just a ruse an that the only goal is a united Ireland for Sinn Fein and their supporters and once that happens the ethnic cleansing will begin.

Miriam Uí Riagáin
Miriam Uí Riagáin
6 months ago

Just one comment from the RoI. While Sinn Féin has picked up votes among younger voters in the most recent election here, as a populist party, promising everything, support for a United Ireland is relatively low. The cost of integration, sectarian Northern politics, fears of civil war all play in people’s minds. I’d say a referendum in RoI, if it was held, might result in a NO. Sinn Fein has divided Irish politics, certainly not united us.

Last edited 6 months ago by Miriam Uí
Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
6 months ago

Yup that’s always the view I picked up from Irish acquaintances and relatives, when you finally manage to get them to talk politics. They don’t want the burden of NI.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
6 months ago

Thanks for that input. Where I’m living over in Austria, the whole Ireland-Northern Ireland-GA-Protocol discussion is so simplistic, it is absurd. The gist of the argument is always that the inner Irish border is the be all and end all of everything, Unionist interests don’t matter in the slightest and that any kind of infrastructure on/near the inner Irish border (infrastructure never being clearly defined) will automatically result in civil war. It is taken as a forgone conclusion that Ireland will reunite in the near future and that it will be some kind of massive group hug with everyone just falling overjoyed into each other’s arms and living happily ever after as evil Britain recedes from the picture.
I guess that fits the required anti-British narrative that has dominated and been pushed like crazy since Brexit – no one ever seems to ask what the Irish actually want or what downsides could come from reuniting. What the Irish want and your wellbeing never seems to get discussed properly – and these are your supposedly lovely and caring EU buddies.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
6 months ago

Does the author believe the Republic of Ireland will still have a positive view of the EU now they’re contributors to the budget rather than beneficiaries now the UK has left, especially as those contributions are likely to rise? Will immigration likely rise now the UK is no longer an option, and will this lead to the same arguments we saw in the UK? I don’t necessarily believe using a pro EU argument will sway enough people in Northern Ireland to vote to join the Republic

Eamonn Toland
Eamonn Toland
6 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

The Republic actually became a net contributor in 2013, three years before Brexit, and had already seen a massive rise in its immigrant population after the accession of Eastern European countries. There are Polish speciality food shops dotted across the country, and roughly 17% of the population in the Republic wasn’t born in Ireland.
Whether that eventually sparks the same discussions as in the UK remains to be seen. For now, most of the populist vote that goes to the left or right in other countries is being scooped up by Sinn Féin, which focuses on housing and cost of living issues in the Republic, leaving immigration and it’s historically eurosceptical stance on the back burner, along with it’s links to the Provisional IRA.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
6 months ago
Reply to  Eamonn Toland

I wonder what will happen when the first black face arrives in Gortahork, Co Donegal, current residence of Gerry Adams Esq?

Last edited 6 months ago by ARNAUD ALMARIC
Barry Phillips
Barry Phillips
6 months ago

I strongly suspect that Sinn Fein, despite inheriting the nationalist mantle, are really just bog-standard progressives.

They seek to address many of the problems unnecessarily created by naive and incompetent government in recent decades. Their website makes no mention of immigration policies, but the noises they make are ultra-liberal – particularly with regard to their mates in Gaza and the West Bank. I anticipate that if elected, they could do as much harm to the Irish population as the British ever did.

Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
6 months ago
Reply to  Barry Phillips

Scum Fein want a 32 gender Republic
They are commie scum

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
6 months ago
Reply to  Barry Phillips

When you’re largely funded by the Americans it’s no wonder some of that countries politics seeps through

Rob Britton
Rob Britton
6 months ago

Was this writer in the IRA? He seems to have a visceral hatred of Britain and everything it represents.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
6 months ago
Reply to  Rob Britton

Possibly a ‘passive’ member, as were all 15,000, on that sunny Sunday, 50 years ago in Londonderry.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
6 months ago
Reply to  Rob Britton

Yeah it’s an analysis trying to appear reasonable but poisoned by bias. Worth nothing, except as insight to the writers lack of self awareness.

Neil C
Neil C
6 months ago

As a 48 year old Protestant atheist (as it’s called here) born and bred in Northern Ireland and who holds an Irish passport and happy to be part of both Ireland and Great Britain and has Scottish mother and Irish father, the current situation is worrying. The violence of the “modern troubles” started with with the murder of a catholic by protestants and a loyalists bombing campaign on infrastructure, so stirring up Loyalist and Unionist fears is dangerous. The author leaves some important points out. Neither Unionist or Nationalists have a majority in Stormont , but the unionists factions have a slightly higher vote share. Sinn Fein will probably become the largest party due to the split in unionist parties which hasn’t happened in nationalist parties, they will still only get about 25% of the votes. The Alliance party is non sectarian and would probably support the the majority vote on unity. All polls still show a majority in favour of the union. The European vote is overdone as most people voted to remain not out of love of the EU but because they feared change, can you imagine the fear of change with a border poll. So without a well thought out plan how unity would work there’s very little chance of it happening. The main problems will be, pensions who pays (not going to be GB government) changing currency how will this effect mortgages etc. Changes to the legal system. Will the Irish government be happy to pay 25000 civil servants? Will the Irish government be happy to have and pay for 25% workforce being in the public sector compared to 15%? So overplaying the chances of a vote is very dangerous and misguided. I personally would be happy with some form of dual sovereignty, with the Irish and British governments working together to let Northern Ireland run and hopefully one day pay for itself again. Yes for those English readers Belfast was once one of the richest cities in Great Britain and Northern Ireland was a prosperous place. Why should the English keep having to support N.I you might ask, well “You made your bed now lie in it”

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
6 months ago
Reply to  Neil C

No Englishmen in their right mind would deny that Belfast was once booming. However your final sentence says it all, and now is the moment for England get out of Northern Ireland.
We managed to get out of India and Africa without too much trouble so there is no excuse for current timidity.

Neil C
Neil C
6 months ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

From Partition to the Protocol the British government has had a role in the political mess in Northern Ireland, so has all the other players and they should all be working together to find solution for the people. I’d just like to see some original thinking and leadership that moves away from Orange and Green thinking. India and Africa were colonies, Northern Ireland is part of a political union so completely different. The English are not in Northern Ireland so no need to get “out”. If the English have understandably had enough and want to walk away from the political union fair enough but that isn’t going look great to the rest of the world or 55% of Scots who voted for the union.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
6 months ago
Reply to  Neil C

‘We’ are only in this mess because both Asquith and later that old pervert Lloyd George* ‘bottled’ the 1914 Home Rule Bill.
Having spent more than a century on this fruitless exercise it is surely time to go, regardless of what world opinion thinks.
As to Scotland, at the very least the Barnet Formula should be scrapped and the ‘subsidy’ reduced to that given to England (ditto Wales.) The Sun has finally set on the British Empire and we simply cannot afford such generosity.

*( The Sir James Wilson Vincent Savile, OBE, KCSG, of his day.)

Eamonn Toland
Eamonn Toland
6 months ago
Reply to  Neil C

If there ever is a successful border poll, it would be sensible to retain devolution in Northern Ireland for policing, the NHS and education, as well as cultural and symbolic links to Great Britain, while an all-island parliament aligned currencies, infrastructural investment, enterprise policy, taxation and social welfare benefits.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
6 months ago
Reply to  Eamonn Toland

I don’t agree, it should be in or out. You either stick with the status quo or the Republic takes full responsibility for Northern Ireland, with all the policing costs that entails. They’d have to significantly up their spending on the Garda to deal with that lot

Eamonn Toland
Eamonn Toland
6 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

There’s no doubt that sovereignty and responsibility would instantly transfer to the Republic in the event of a unity vote, as it should be. Apart from some public service pensions and other similar residual obligations, Great Britain would be off the hook from a financial perspective.
That doesn’t mean that those who identify as Northern Irish or British have to see their identity atomised in a 32 county republic. One of the obvious mistakes of the old Stormont regime was to make it a “cold house” for Catholics.
Two administrative systems that have diverged for a century cannot coalesce overnight. While central government in Dublin aligns taxes, benefits, infrastructural planning, currency and enterprise policy, a devolved assembly could have democratic oversight over education, policing and the health service.
For the ordinary man or woman on the street, the NHS system in Northern Ireland could remain, albeit it would be funded by the Irish government, which already spends more per capita on the southern health service than is currently spent on the NHS in Northern Ireland, which has some of the longest wait times in the UK.
A devolved assembly also allows for cultural and symbolic links to Great Britain to be celebrated. There is no reason why the Queen and President couldn’t be ceremonial co-Heads of Stormont, for instance. Great Britain could continue to support the Common Travel Area, and continue to offer passports and citizenship to citizens of Northern Ireland.
Collaboration and warm relations between both islands could continue. The two governments could negotiate the retention of the Northern Ireland Protocol and Northern Irish participation in the Commonwealth Games. The Irish government might deploy a license fee to retain BBC Northern Ireland, and lobby FIFA to retain the Northern Ireland football team.
If a border poll is ever successful, it will obviously be a wrenching blow for hundreds of thousands of loyal Britons whose families have lived in Ulster for centuries, but that does not mean that a 32 county republic has to conform to a narrow Little Irelander vision where unionists either keep their heads down or leave. The only kind of political unity worth having would be one that unites people in harmony and friendship, “in all the diversity of their identities and traditions.”

Don Graham
Don Graham
6 months ago

The Good Friday Agreement requires the secretary of state to call a border poll only when it has a reasonable chance of success, not when Sinn Fein happens to be largest with maybe 25% of the vote.

Crucially, what this article fails to mention is the result of the opinion poll a couple of weeks ago in which only one third of those questioned wanted a United Ireland in the near future.

For the last 20 years Sinn Fein have consistently mislead voters with the mantra of once they’re the biggest party there’ll be an automatic referendum. This article suggests the author believes them.

For balance the DUP use the same misleading, feamongering mantra to attract the pro UK voter.

Eamonn Toland
Eamonn Toland
6 months ago
Reply to  Don Graham

Arguably the reason that the DUP might be hammered in these elections is because unionism is no longer falling for the fearmongering.

John Riordan
John Riordan
6 months ago
Reply to  Don Graham

Agreed.

Last edited 6 months ago by John Riordan
AC Harper
AC Harper
6 months ago

If the pain of staying is greater than the pain of going, go.
But do consider that a ‘tidier’ UK might not revisit the need for the Common Travel Area, and where future funding may come from. But if a ‘tidier’ Ireland and a ‘tidier’ UK have some appeal, go to it.

John Riordan
John Riordan
6 months ago

I have little idea what Sinn Fein might achieve, but I do know that I won’t be taking any predictions from the ignorant arse-clown that wrote this hopeless attempt at explaining things.

Last edited 6 months ago by John Riordan
Ri Bradach
Ri Bradach
6 months ago

Yet another wilful idiot who knows of the GFA but equates it’s success with the EU and a post Lisbon environment, neatly forgetting that there was free movement of people and services between Ireland and the UK before the EU and it took the EU until 2009 to catch up, over a decade AFTER the GFA.

The reality is it was IRELAND that demanded the EU re-institute the borders and went out of its way to belittle any attempt by the government to outline how borders could be minimised.

IRELAND chose to be the anvil for the European Commission to hammer Britain for leaving.

The Irish today are incapable of defining themselves without recourse to the negative “we hate the Brits”. That is how reductive thousands of years of Celtic culture have become in the hands of these small minded left wing “republicans”.

Ireland has been so very let down by the likes of this writer, but sadly, they get away with spouting off their ignorance and hatred. When Ireland one days pays the price of its allegiance to the EU and hatred for their kin in Britain, I’ll be sure to recall who is to blame.

F Hugh Eveleigh
F Hugh Eveleigh
6 months ago

Northern Ireland is an integral part of the UK and nothing has been said or done to change that. The Protocol should never have been signed albeit the times were desperate. A border is required between NI and Eire i.e. the one that exists at the moment. The EU may not like it – too bad so the sooner Article 16 is invoked the sooner NI can return to the fold and in due course if they wish to vote on leaving the UK they can do so whilst fully a member of it. The UK government pontificates on the matter but does little and if, as the author suggests, there is a sub-text of ridding NI by some Tories then the PM must stop that nonsense immediately. History will be rightly ruthless if we dither much longer. The EU will not change its attitude so we must change ours and stop accommodating it. We should not have signed (the ridiculously flawed ‘oven ready deal’) but thank heavens Article 16 is there and we can use it just as the EU did for a short time to suit their ends.
Too much talk and not enough effective action from a vacillating UK government and a dithering PM.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
6 months ago

And there were certainly some Catholics and Nationalists who reckoned they were better off cleaving to the devil they knew, perfidious Albion, rather than throwing their lot in with the pesky Europeans.”
Just one quote, demonstrating this writer’s one eyed bias. No acknowledgement of any positives to the Unionist case without a jaded comment. This is probably the most one side political view I’ve ever read on Unherd – and as a result it provides no insight at all, except into the blinkered view of apparently-intelligent republicans. Even clever people can lack self awareness to an extreme degree.
Just one point to illustrate – having loads of Irish family of older years, most of them want nothing to with a United Ireland because of the grief it would create for them. It ain’t just the British who are fickle, etc etc.

Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
6 months ago

Scum Fein want a 32 gender Republic

The Republic is just a Silicon Valley colony now, pimped out like an aging w***e by our corrupt political class

A United Ireland means nothing anymore without a strong Catholic identity

Last edited 6 months ago by Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Don Graham
Don Graham
6 months ago

And the non-Catholic Irish?? Or is there no such thing?

Jeff Carr
Jeff Carr
6 months ago

As in Scotland, the Unionist vote is spread across a number of parties whereas the vast majority of the Separatist vote is with one Party.
At this time, I am not sure that a Border Poll would result in separation.
The author clearly has a Separation and Pro-EU agenda. The EU has no critical analysis from the establishment in Dublin. Will this situation continue?

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
6 months ago

Perhaps we should sell Scotland and Ulster to Canada, and be done with them both?

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
6 months ago

Two for the price of one? But would even Trudeau’s Canadians be that stupid?
No I’m afraid not, and we must reconcile ourselves to the fact that England is to be ‘ shackled’ to two corpses for the foreseeable future.

Don Graham
Don Graham
6 months ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

Three corpses. Wales is generally behind NI.

Craig Strachan
Craig Strachan
6 months ago

On the contrary, Scotland should take proprietorship of Canada, as it all but did in the past.

Andrew D
Andrew D
6 months ago

My preference would be for the whole of Ireland to join a federation of the British Isles – culture, language, geography and familial links make this sensible. If Ireland prefers to cleave to the EU, let that be their choice, and let’s set a date (say 2040) for withdrawing from NI. That gives people (protestants) time to be reconciled to the idea or to decide to relocate (to Scotland, Canada, New Zealand or even England).

Last edited 6 months ago by Andrew D
ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
6 months ago
Reply to  Andrew D

You jest Sir? Surely not New Zealand. That that would be a fate worse than death whilst it is run by Jacinda the Hun?

Andrew D
Andrew D
6 months ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

Exactly. It might make the tender embrace of Sinn Fein slightly less alarming

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
6 months ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Changing the subject slightly, did we ‘ many moons ago’ have a discussion as to whether Heretic – Witch burning was a form of human sacrifice or judicial execution?
If so we appear to be a small band of survivors from a previous era do we not?

Andrew D
Andrew D
6 months ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

Yes, not many of us left now.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old… We will remember them. 

Last edited 6 months ago by Andrew D
John Riordan
John Riordan
6 months ago
Reply to  Andrew D

I agree with a variation on this. I think that the geography is ideally the decider, with Ireland and Great Britain as separate nations (or groups of nations, as England, Scotland and Wales would presently are). However both would belong to an Anglophone archipelago as described by Daniel Hannan – a loose affiliation of nations having free trade and democratic limited government as their common principles, but no more than that.

Sadly, it’s a pipe dream for the foreseeable future.

Last edited 6 months ago by John Riordan
Don Graham
Don Graham
6 months ago
Reply to  Andrew D

I think maybe you should start sharing your ideas in a pub in say Cork or Belfast before commenting any further.

Last edited 6 months ago by Don Graham
John Riordan
John Riordan
6 months ago
Reply to  Don Graham

I know exactly what you mean of course, but that doesn’t make his argument any less sound. Normally I would not oppose the right of the Irish to tell the Brits to mind their own damn business, but that’s all changed now that I can see the craven submissiveness of the Irish political class in surrendering Irish sovereignty to Brussels.

Wanting the British out of Ireland was, and remains, a noble ideal for the Irish. Wanting this thing at the same time as handing over the reins to Brussels is the precise opposite, and I don’t care how many bar fights that idea might spark if stated openly.

Last edited 6 months ago by John Riordan
Ian Barton
Ian Barton
6 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

I do wonder why Irish Republicans who want to be rid of the non-elected Queen Elisabeth, would be prepared to become subjects of non-elected Queen Ursula.

Last edited 6 months ago by Ian Barton
Don Graham
Don Graham
6 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Rather than suggest to 1 million people that things are going to change so you might be happier moving to a different country try something less medieval, consent, self determination etc etc, just a thought.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
6 months ago
Reply to  Don Graham

“Two pints of Black & Tan, and make it snappy” as we used to say.

Roger Rogers
Roger Rogers
6 months ago

A lot will depend on the future of Europe itself.

Jon Hawksley
Jon Hawksley
6 months ago

And the winner is hubris – as the inflated egos of party leaders stop them seeing outside of their bubble. DUP, Liberal Democrats and Labour in 2019. The consequences were entirely forseeable. A down to earth article, lets hope economic considerations prevail over the pent-up emotions.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
6 months ago
Reply to  Jon Hawksley

Let’s hope democratic principles prevail over all other considerations.

Mike Bell
Mike Bell
6 months ago

The Northern Irish get a border-poll to decide if they want to leave the UK.
Why don’t we mainlanders get a poll to see whether we want them to stay?

Jeremy Eves
Jeremy Eves
6 months ago

A borderless Ireland will not necessarily be a united Ireland. Seamus Mallon suggested that it might be necessary to provide a devolved government for Northern Ireland with in an all Ireland state. But sadly that would just perpetuate the division.

The pressure for an all Ireland state will not go away. So debate must be joined, But the unionists will not debate what a united Ireland would look like, nor the terms on which it might be accomplished. That’s understandable but shortsighted. All the growing debate is being framed by nationalists so the formulation of the settlement will be nationalist.

At present it seems that to be Irish is to be Gaelic, not just an Irish citizen. Sinn Fein are calling for a new Ireland with warm words designed to enhance their bona fides. But they have not loosened their definition of Irishness – Irish speaking, gaelic game playing, nominally Catholic.

What would be the constitution and governance of an Ireland not focussed on being Gaelic. By abstaining from the debate Unionists are not forcing Nationalists to answer that question. But the answer to that question is vital if Ireland is ever to be united rather than borderless.

Last edited 6 months ago by Jeremy Eves
Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
6 months ago

I’ve been pole-axed by all these polls.

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
6 months ago

My view as an American is that Ireland has traditionally been a place people come from, not a place people stay in. If there’s instability in Northern Ireland, I think people will again just leave.

My Irish ancestors all were Protestants, mostly Presbyterians, that came to the American Colonies from Northern Ireland before the American Revolution. From what I have found out about them, and others like them, the Irish Penal laws were both the reason they left and the reason they fought English efforts at direct rule in American Colonies.

The stories of most people of Irish descent I’ve know here in the US are also similar, in that things in Ireland got bad, so their families left.

Politicians in Ireland have to be careful about their fights. If things get too bad in Northern Ireland and Eire, people will just leave for Canada or the US. By now, voting with your feet is a centuries old Irish tradition.

Last edited 6 months ago by Douglas Proudfoot
Lisa I
Lisa I
6 months ago

In the Republic, Sinn Fein haven’t emphasised a United Ireland, in contrast to having consistantly hammered the opposition on housing and health. Unification isn’t all that important to voters here.

Ceasing murders and a laser focus on housing, health and general populism has lead to their popularity. They have also retired most of the dodgy faces from the past to appeal to voters in the Republic.

Additionally they have adopted wokeness to appeal to young, middle class voters. A focus on fair working conditions and good services attracts the young working class. They seem to have very good political strategists, better than the norm in Ireland.

Last edited 6 months ago by Lisa I
Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
6 months ago

I was hoping for a fair analysis, but the author just can’t help his extreme anti-Brexit prejudice coming through again and again. A nation decided on the basis of a democratic vote, to leave a supra-national (and often very undemocratic) political union, one with no clear end goal in sight except the vaguely defined ‘ever closer union’. Does Carlo Gebler wish Ireland to be reduced to the status of Alabama? And if not, could he explain why?
There is a lot of lazy, or possibly deliberately biased language. The EU is not ‘Europe’. And of course there is the issue of weaponising the thereat of violence to essentially eliminate a border and make Northern Ireland conform to EU rules. The border was militarised because of security, not customs reasons.
The comment about ‘EU money’ is ridiculous: all the EU funds are taken from national taxpayers – essentially from the net contributor nations such as Germany and formerly the UK. There could of course be greater accountability for the spending through national politicians.
Personally, I don’t a strong view as to whether Northern Ireland should form part of the UK or join the Republic. But even as we write, the conclusion that many extreme Loyalists may well reach is that if the threat of violence works, as it seems to, even from supposedly respectable politicians, they may well consider it. And the Republic is welcome to that problem. Please though, don’t come begging the UK taxpayer for help!

Last edited 6 months ago by Andrew Fisher
0 0
0 0
6 months ago

I genuinely never heard any DUP member suggest/ propose the return to a border on the island of Ireland.

Alex Tickell
Alex Tickell
6 months ago

People who advocate the bombing of innocent men, women and children only a few years ago, deserve no credibility. Irish Nationalism is stained by its history.
Wolves in sheep’s clothing at the moment.

Anthony Munnelly
Anthony Munnelly
6 months ago

The headline does a disservice to the piece. Sinn Féin will not unite Ireland. Ireland will reunite by default, as the UK continues to implode.
Unionism is dedicated to a vision of Britain that no longer exists. Enoch Powell found a welcome in Northern Ireland as Ulster Unionist MP for South Down in the 1970s. Unionism’s Britain is Powell’s Britain and that Britain is dead and gone. All nationalists have to do is wait and let unity come to them.

Don Graham
Don Graham
6 months ago

Irish unity will only be possible after Northern Irish unity. Sadly our young are still being fed selective history in an apartheid educational system.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
6 months ago
Reply to  Don Graham

Yes indeed. Isn’t it absolutely incredible that this ‘apartheid’ education system, paid for by England, is still up and running in 2022!
It should have ceased with Direct Rule in 1972 or thereabouts.

,

Don Graham
Don Graham
6 months ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

80% of parents want integrated education, it was enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement but still nothing because there are no DUP/SF votes in a united community.
Much more sense to use schools as bigot factories.

Neil Ross
Neil Ross
6 months ago

Having lived through the IRA dominated 70s to 90s a united Ireland would be the best possible outcome of Brexit. To much blood and money have been expended in maintaining Northern Ireland as part of the UK. Time to give responsibility for NI over to ROI and EU – Good Bye and Good Luck!